The company’s name, Half Face Blades, has an interesting background as well. Bito is a fan of Amercian frontier culture and a student of the American West. He takes his inspiration from the way many settlers pushed through adversity and built homes from the land. When he was working overseas, he often painted half of his face black and did missions on horseback in the style of a Native American warrior. It also has a second meaning, one that relates to Roosevelt’s “Speak softly but carry a big stick” philosophy and one that the warrior caste can relate to. “Be good to people, be professional, but have another side. A warrior is going to have a violent side, that’s not a bad thing. People may never see that side, and that’s fine.” Only show half of your face, one might say.
Half Face Blades has expanded far beyond the awning behind Bito’s house, and the company now employs several other veterans. Everyone at Half Face Blades is committed to making functional products. “They’re rugged and beautiful but we use really good steel. We use high-end parts and pieces and we put them together in a way that they maintain their durability. I want a knife that’s versatile, a utility blade that someone is going to use. I can make it as tactical as they want or as lavish as someone wants, but I want it to be used. That’s the goal. People can say ‘I want a custom knife, I like red so I want red used in the knife’ and I can build that for them to personalize it but, at the end of the day it’s usable. They can smash it up and carry it on their kit overseas, carry the tomahawks. Whether it’s for guys in law enforcement or guys working overseas, I want them to use it.”
Half Face’s Karambitos range from basic steel models with micarta scales to beautiful Damascus blades with swirling exotic hardwood. My own Karambito, made for me by my friend Bito, was made with a gold SEAL Trident inlaid into the beautiful wooden grip scales with mosaic pins holding everything together. If you can dream it, Half Face Blades can build it. The Karambito is a curved blade, built specifically for use in combat. “The Karambito was designed to get in deep on the inside of legs, arms, and neck. The reason for the shape and design is to reach in and hit arteries, causing the person to bleed-out quickly. When bringing the curved blade across a stomach, the edge and angled design of the blade wants to stay in and dig deeper into the flesh. The brachial artery runs inside the arm, protected on one side by the bone. The femoral artery running on the inside of the leg is similar. The Karambito is ideal for hitting those areas and also used with a punching motion which brings the blade up into and across the target’s throat. The ring feature that the pointer finger goes through is key in keeping the blade in your hand and also allows the user to grab things and otherwise use the same hand without dropping the knife. I designed the Karambito with a 3-inch blade so it would be legal to carry concealed in lots of states. It can be mounted to a plate carrier, or on belt.” It is important to remember that, though these blades are attractive to look at, they are built for a purpose far more serious.